The city of Iga in Mie Prefecture is set to recognize same-sex partnerships as being equivalent to marriage next year, the Japan Times quoted Mayor Sakae Okamoto as saying.
Located in the Kansai region of Japan on the island of Honshu, the city is expected to start issuing certificates in April next year.
Although Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, the city says it plans to accord the same rights to same-sex couples at hospitals and apartments run by the municipal government and work with private companies, such as real estate agencies.
Referring to to an online survey conducted by ad giant Dentsu Inc, the mayor estimates that about 6,000 people of its population of about 95,000 are LGBTI.
‘It is our role to create a society in which sexual minorities can proudly live,’ he said on Friday.
Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo, became the country’s first and second local governments to introduce the certificate system in November. As of Friday, a total of 16 same-sex couples have received papers from the two wards.
The city of Takarazuka in Hyogo prefecture will start issuing partnership certificates to gay couples in June next year.
Unlike in Shibuya, the partnership systems in Takarazuka and Setagaya do not require private businesses to recognize gay couples.
A recent government-funded poll of 1,259 adult Japanese voters by researchers from Hiroshima Shudo University found that 51.1 percent supported the legalization of same-sex marriage while only 41.3 percent said they were opposed.